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BOMA approves next step to affordable housing

Photos by Kerri Bartlett

Alderman Dana McLendon said that 
Franklin's Board of Mayor and Aldermen needed to stop talking about affordable housing and "let someone build it." Mayor Ken Moore (from left), Aldermen Dana McLendon, Ward 2, and Aldermen At Large Clyde Barnhill, Brandy Blanton, Pearl Bransford and Ann Petersen.

After years of “talking about it,” the city of Franklin took a step closer to allowing the construction of an affordable housing development in Franklin.

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted July 23 to approve upon second reading –Village at West Main – a joint venture affordable housing development between developer Daniel Woods of The Addison Group, LLC and Community Housing Partnership of Williamson County.

The development would bring 35 single bedroom apartment units composed of 600 square feet and priced at about $625 per month to West Main Street. An onsite property manager would also be included in the project.

The plan passed through the planning commission as well as BOMA’s second reading Tuesday night and will be considered on final reading in August.

The Village is designed specifically to address Franklin’s affordable housing issue, according to supporters, who extolled the opportunity to offer one-bedroom units to individuals and couples.

Developer Daniel Woods talks to BOMA about his plans for the Village at West Main.

“It’s not healthy for a community when it’s workers – it’s teachers, police officers and fire fighters can’t afford to live where they work,” Steve Murray, executive director of CHP, previously reported. “It’s up to Franklin to decide.”
During the public comment segment of the meeting, proponents of the development passionately urged aldermen to approve the regulations that would allow the project to come to fruition.

“I don’t know two words [affordable housing] that produce such passion,” Alderman Margaret Martin, Ward 4, said during the meeting.

The apartment development has received a cross-section of support from housing and non-profit organizations, as well as local residents involved in development issues. Proponents include current and former members of Franklin Housing Commission, Franklin Tomorrow, and Hard Bargain Association, among others.

“Citizens approve of breaking barriers to affordable housing,” said Mindy Tate, executive director of Franklin Tomorrow. Tate referenced surveys conducted by her organization that support her comment.

“Although, we do not support any particular group or project, we support the concept of affordable housing,” she said.
“For a long time we have been saying that Franklin needs affordable housing,” said Brant Bousquet, executive director of Hard Bargain.
“This is an opportunity to take action and make that happen. That’s what we elected you to do. No option is perfect, but this is a great project and a great opportunity. Don’t let it go to waste.”

However, certain aspects of the plans drew concern and criticism from some aldermen.

Alderman At Large Ann Petersen and Martin voted against the rezoning of the property to begin the development due to concerns that it would be built too close to the road, which could hinder future plans to widen West Main Street in the next 20-years.

It was discussed that the building is placed closer to the street than adjacent properties – all commercial – including the physician offices, the ProHealth Office Building, and the Williamson County Health Department.

Petersen also expressed concern that the density would be too great for the size of the lot.

“Just because it’s affordable housing doesn’t mean that this is the right plan or the right property,” Petersen said.
However, Petersen said she would reconsider her support for the development if the building were constructed further from the road.

Aldermen spent nearly an hour in public hearing and discussion before passing the two resolutions.

Alderman Dana McLendon, Ward 2, said that it is time to stop talking about affordable housing and do something about it.
“In the years that I’ve been an alderman [16 years], I can’t remember the last time that someone came forward and offered something like this,” McLendon said. “If we vote against it, they are done. It will discourage others from coming forward.”
“Options for affordable housing have declined and the solutions to difficult problems are imperfect,” he said. “Let’s put our support where our aspirations begin. Let’s stop putting lip service on this issue. Do we want to keep talking about talking about it or let someone build it?”

Posted on: 7/24/2013


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